Spillane claims to be ‘starting to lose Harte’
That’s the headline that straddled his Sunday newspaper column as Pat Spillane, according to the sub-heading on the story, send this heartfelt plea to the Tyrone manager: ‘Face facts, Mickey - punters are sick of moidern-day tactics’!
Now, since I have been of this school of thought for years - despite three All-Ireland titles having thankfully come our way without playing football the way I grew up watching it played, not only do I find myself in the dreadful position whereby I am of a similar frame of mind as Spillane, but I am also agreeing with Josie Scullion! ‘What the hell is happening to me’, I wonder!
Those who read the paper last week might have seen a letter from the ‘Tyrone Lady Supporter’ on the very same topic. Under the headline ‘Come on Tyrone - is it football or handball?’, Josie said the ball rarely was kicked in the Division Two League Final and, while she could tolerate handpassing the ball an odd time when in difficulty, she can’t accept doing it all the time. “This tactic is just too much the thing!” she exclaimed.
Spillane’s rant, whilst griping about the four league finals individually, was about the broader church.
“When reviewing the Tyrone v Kildare game, I’m mindful of Mickey Harte’s recent criticism of those pundits - including yours truly - who question the standard of modern-day gaelic football.
“He suggested that 21st-century football is far more exciting than what we witnessed in the past. Let’s face facts here: fans are voting with their feet and not attending games because of the disappointing fare on offer.
“At every match I attend, I repeatedly hear one plaintive cry: ‘will you ever kick the ball, for ----’s sake’.
“Of course, opinion is subjective, but claiming that modern-day football is more exciting than games in the past leaves those making the claim in a minority. At best, they are the sporting equivalent of fully paid-up members of the flat-earth society.
“There is much I admire about modern football. Fitness levels are higher, teams are better organised and players are conditioned better. There is a greater intensity and skills such as handpassing, tackling and solo-running are better executed.
“But I question its underlying coaching philosophy. Gaelic football has become defensively orientated and possession based. It is all about pulling bodies behind the ball and then counter-attacking with solo-running and handpassing. No risks are taken.
“And that’s precisely the kind of football we witnessed between Tyrone and Kildare. Sure, it was tense and enthralling, but it most certainly wasn’t exciting or top quality.
“And I would just point out to Harte that I wasn’t the only person who formed that view. Everybody I met in Croke Park last Sunday shared those sentiments.
“Kildare beat Tyrone at their own game - they were fitter, sharper, hungrier and, crucially, physically stronger than their opponents. They simply set up a wall of bodies on their own 45m line, which neutralised Tyrone’s traditional counter-attacking game.
“For long spells in the second half, Tyrone’s play reminded me of Barcelona’s futile efforts to break down the Chelsea defence in the semi-final of the Champions League. Both Tyrone and Barcelona tried to pass the ball through a massed defence and got nowehere. Like Barcelona, Tyrone had no Plan B and that’s why they foundered.”
Spillane then went to town on analysing the Kildare tactics before summing it all up thus: “Kildare are no different from the majority of other counties. They all sign up strength and conditioning coaches, defensive coaches and performance coaches. I have never heard of any county siging up an attacking coach. I am available!”
Meantime, Tyrone legend Peter Canavan, a week after being slated by Joe Brolly in his column about players feigning injury, will have read with some interest his assessment of his Fermanagh team’s performance in the Division Four final.
“Surprise, surprise the best of the action was in the first half of the encounter between Fermanagh and Wicklow. There was a touch of innocence about the teams, with no blanket defences on show and delightful scores executed.
“What pleased me most, however, was the long kicked passess hit to fullforwards Seanie Furlong of Wicklow and Fermanagh’s Seamus Quigley.
“This was my first time to see Fermanagh in action. They received a lot of plaudits for going through the league unbeaten under new boss Peter Canavan.
“Frankly, they were a disappointment. There was a touch of ‘Tyrone light’ about them. They were certainly working off the Tyrone template, but they don’t have enough quality players to execute that game plan.
“Judging by last weekend’s display, Canavan has a major challenge on his hands if his side is to win evern one match in the Ulster Championship.”
Make up your mind, Spillane! On the one hand, enthusing about a touch of innocence, with no blanket defences on show and long kicked passes yet, conversely, they were working off the Tyrone template.
Surely it has to be one or the other? Tell me if I’m wrong!
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Weather for Dungannon
Wednesday 22 May 2013
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